Can Dyson hoover up car sales?
Vacuum cleaner maker to use solid-state batteries in radical EV
EV plan uncovered
Adopting solid-state batteries would be a potentially significant point of difference for Dyson
Dyson, the vacuum cleaner maker, aims to go one step further than Apple and Google by making its own electric car – and claims that it will be in production in just three years.
Dyson, which revealed the first details of its ambitious plan last week, will follow the example of Tesla in creating its own new model from scratch, developing the hardware and software without partnering an existing car maker.
Both Apple and Google, the latter through its offshoot Waymo, have already abandoned plans to make their own cars as they believe the process to be too complex. Instead, they will develop self-driving car technology for existing car makers.
Dyson’s switch from vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, fans and hairdryers to cars is unprecedented in modern times. Tesla, like other EV startups, was originally created with the sole intention of making electric cars, although it has since expanded.
Dyson boss and founder Sir James Dyson has wanted to make cars since the 1980s, and has ramped up plans in the past two years by recruiting engineers at his Malmesbury base in Wiltshire. Dyson has 400 engineers already working on the project, among them former Aston Martin development boss Ian Minards, who is Dyson’s global product development director.
Dyson revealed few of the project’s specifics last week, but did confirm that he is investing £2 billion into it, with the money split between vehicle development and battery technology. The government is also contributing £174 million.
The type of car is not yet known; Dyson does not yet have a design for the project, nor even a prototype. However, Dyson confirmed it would not be a premium, rather than a mass-market, product. He also revealed that there were plans for more cars in the future.
It is battery technology where Dyson believes he has an advantage. He intends to adopt solid-state batteries to power his firm’s electric cars. They are of a much higher density and quicker to charge than liquid-cells, cooler while operating and potentially more powerful, meaning that fewer are needed and weight can be reduced.
No other car maker is anywhere near having solidstate batteries in production (Toyota has said it expects the technology in the next decade), so it would indeed be a potentially significant point of difference for Dyson.
China would be a key market for Dyson, given both the brand’s popularity there and that the car could be produced in the Far East, although that decision has yet to be decided. Development would be in the UK, though, with a dedicated Dyson car development centre due to open next year.
Dyson told Reuters: “Wherever we make the battery, we’ll make the car – that’s logical. So we want to be near our suppliers, we want to be in a place that welcomes us
and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East.”
In an email to staff confirming the venture, Sir James cited solving airquality problems as the main motivation behind it.
He added: “In March 1990, a team at Dyson began work on a cyclonic filter that could be fitted on a vehicle’s exhaust filter to trap particulates. By 1993, we had developed several working prototypes and showed an early iteration to [children’s BBC TV show] Blue Peter. To our chagrin, nobody at the time was interested in employing our diesel exhaust capture system and we stopped the project.”
Dyson sent an email to staff announcing his ambitious project